PREP CROSS-COUNTRY: Panthers’ season comes to a bittersweet end

GERVAIS — Central High School cross-country season came to a bittersweet end Thursday at the Mid-Willamette Conference District meet.

“They ran their hearts out. They competed,” coach Eli Cirino said. “They ran about like we planned on, and it just didn’t happen today.”

The boys finished sixth in the district and the girls fifth/ No individual runner qualified for state, ending the team’s season.

Cirino said even though the teams didn’t cross the state-qualifying thresholds, there’s still a lot to be proud of this season.

The boys’ top runner, Jonathan Brown, placed 10th in a time of 17 minutes, 3.8 seconds.

“He’s made incredible progress this year as a runner. It’s amazing to see,” Cirino said. “He actually ran in the JV race last year as a sophomore, so to be 10th in the varsity race one year later is pretty amazing progress.”

Following Brown was Jaime Cantu (24th, 17:45.8); Caylen Thomas (28th, 17:55.2); Rufus Schrader (30th, 18:04.4); and junior Maynard DeWitt (44th, 18:40.3).

The girls team had several seniors running their last race. Cirino said he’s coached many of them since they were sixth-graders, so Thursday was a tough goodbye.

“It was sad, but it was awesome at the same time. Those girls are like my daughters,” Cirino said. “I have two boys, but those are my girls. They know it. I tell them that all the time.”

Senior Bailie Hartford led the Panthers, placing 16th in a time of 21:10.1. Diana Nye finished a place behind Hartford in 21:18.1, followed by sophomore Naomi Vega (20th, 21:30.6); senior Beatriz Trujillo (32nd, 23:07.1); and senior Bethanie Altamirano (33rd, 23:12.1).

Cirino said he’s hopeful for next year’s group of runners.

“I feel really good about our boys next year. We have several strong returning boys, several strong retuning girls,” Cirino said. “I feel like Diana Nye, she ran second for us today, she’s really put in a lot of work. She has also made tremendous progress. … Naomi is a sophomore this year and also a very strong runner. I think those girls will step into that leadership role next year.”


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